While new energy star appliances offer an excellent way to save energy and utility costs, there are many who are unable to replace older, less efficient appliances with something new. Fortunately, there are steps consumers can take to make older less efficient machines operate at greater efficiency without investing in new appliances.
Washers can be made to operate more efficiently in several ways. Begin by washing all clothes in cold water when appropriate. The energy used to heat a washer full of water is significant. If you have not already done so, you might want to switch to a liquid detergent that is easier to dissolve in cold water.
Many people make the mistake of washing several small loads that could all be washed together. Regardless of load size, the machine will require about the same amount of energy. Combining two or more loads when appropriate can cut energy consumption in half or even to 1/3 of what would have been used with smaller loads.
When possible choose the high speed spin cycle. This cycle is usually found on the normal cycle. Permanent press and tender cycles offer the low speed spin that does not remove as much water from the clothes. Remember, the drier the clothes are when they come out of the washer, the less time it will take to dry them. Reducing dryer time can lower one's energy consumption.
While dryers typically use a large amount of energy there are also steps to take to ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible. Start by keeping the lint filter clean. This maximizes the air circulation and makes it easier for the device to remove moist air from the machine. Develop a habit of emptying the lint filter after each load and checking it before starting a new one. Keeping the lint filter clean is an important step in preventing dryer fires.
As with the washer, be sure to dry full loads. Rather than operate the machine using the timer cycle, choose the moisture sensor setting. The sensor helps to save energy by preventing over drying of clothes and keeps them from suffering heat damage. Timed drying can lead to both these problems and waste more energy.
Dryers should be exhausted outside the home. The outside exhaust should be kept clean. Dryer lint buildup is a primary cause of dryer fires. A blocked exhaust prevents moisture from leaving the dryer and can increase drying time significantly. The appliance itself should be kept at least four inches from the walls to prevent kinks or tears in the exhaust duct.
Consumers with budgets will not allow for an investment should consider these tips to use existing appliances that operate as efficiently as possible.